Wayne-John Ford Film Collection - This is one of the
great joys of the movies.
A massive box set from Warner Brothers, including new, painstakingly
restored releases of Stagecoach, The Searchers, Fort Apache,
The Long Voyage Home, 3 Godfathers, Wings of Eagles, She Wore
a Yellow Ribbon, and They were Expendable. There are more extras
than you can count, including booklets, audio commentaries, making-of
videos, a feature-length documentary on Ford and Wayne's careers,
press booklets, a 36-page comic book, special audio features,
and John Wayne home movies. Wow! If there's a better DVD release
this year, I'd like to find it.
- "You have meddled with the primal forces of nature,
and YOU...WILL...ATONE...Am I getting through to you, Mr. Beale?
You get up on your little 21-inch screen, and howl about America,
and democracy. There is no America. There is no democracy.
There is only IBM and ITT, and AT&T, and DuPont, Dow, Union
Carbide, and Exxon. Those are the nations of the world today."
Young - Heart of Gold - In 2005, after Neil Young's father
passed away, he was diagnosed with a brain aneurism. Having recovered
from the near-fatal ordeal, Neil rebounded with one of his best
albums in ages, the quiet, country-fied Heart of Gold. Jonathan
Demme recorded this outstanding concert film over two nights at
Nashville's Ryman Auditorium. I'm a very devoted fan of Neil's
music (Living With War is available now, btw), so this was a deeply
moving experience, one of the very best concert movies.
Summer, Late Spring - Criterion Collection continues its
tribute to one of the greatest of all filmmakers, Yasujiro Ozu.
Early Summer was released a number of months ago, and Late Spring
is just available now. Ozu's movies are often devoted to the realm
of family relationships, and the conflicts of the human heart.
The same collection of actors appear again and again, and each
experience is overwhelming. I don't think there's a better filmmaker
who peels away the layers of a human life. Ozu is a Zen poet, who
contemplates the joys and sorrows of life.
For Fake, The Complete Mr. Arkadin - Criterion's two latest Orson
Welles DVD's. What more needs to be said? It's Orson Welles! I'm
hopeful that Criterion will be able to grab more of his great movies,
like Fallstaff (Chimes at Midnight), The Trial, and The Stranger,
which are all outstanding films that still don't have the audience
they deserve. Well, make this your starting point.
Saved From Drowning - Another Criterion release by the
masterful Jean Renoir. Boudu, the shaggy-dog story of a homeless
man who is taken into a bookseller's home, was remade by Hollywood
in the '80s as Down and Out in Beverly Hills." Don't blame Renoir's
movie for that, kids. Just be sure to have all your Criterion Renoir
DVD's in your library. Speaking of which...
River - Criterion...Jean Renoir...technicolor...India...beautiful...heartbreaking...I'm
out of words. Honestly. Easily among my favorite DVD's of last
year, and clearly deserves a space on your shelf alongside Rules
of the Game and Grand Illusion. You'll love it. You'll get all
Ghibli DVD's - My latest friendly reminder, kids. The American
DVD's for Ghibli's My Neighbor Totoro, Whisper of the Heart, and
Howl's Moving Castle are available now. The Disney dubs on these
movies range from excellent (Howl) to pretty good, if dull (Totoro)
to utter, utter shite (Whisper). Subtitles, children, subtitles.
Either that, or take up Japanese.
Alright, since is this is a looooong overdue catch-up, I'd like
to mention that The Muppet Show is now on DVD. For those of us
who grew up watching Elton John and Alice Cooper hang out with
the Muppets, this is a nice little nostalgia trip. It's also a
perfect gift for our own kids. Oh, and go get The Muppet Movie
while you're at it.
More Notable Releases? - Let's see. Patton has recently
been reissued on DVD, and it's worth it just for George C.
Scott's greatest performance. De Palma's Casualties of War
is now available in a new, director-approved cut, and remains
as gripping as ever. Peckinpaw finally got his due with the
new DVDs, including The Wild Bunch, one of the greatest Westerns.
There's a box set for Mel Brooks fans, even if his best movies
(Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein, Spaceballs) are already
available. Everything Warner Brothers touches turns into
gold. And, finally, in honor of the late, great Oak Street
Cinema, the Minneapolis art-house theatre that got me hooked
on the movies a decade ago...Marlon Brando in Streetcar Named
Inconvenient Truth -
Al Gore...remember him? He was that guy who won the Popular Vote
in the 2000 Presidential election. He's back with an excellent
book and movie about the imminent dangers of globar warming. Our
Real President lays out the damning evidence, laying the blame
right on humanity's doorstep, and then inspires us to make changes
and avert a global catastrophe. We have perhaps a decade to take
decisive action to stop global warming before the Earth reaches
Sorry, folks. There just aren't any movies in the theatres right now
that I want to see. Maybe there are some diamonds buried in the rough,
but nothing is really grabbing out at me. Keep your eyes peeled for
Richard Linklater's upcoming movies, A Scanner Darkly and Fast Food
Nation. Those might be worth the trip.